Thanksgiving has come and gone, but that certainly won’t matter to retail stores, who have started the
holiday shopping for Christmas much earlier than previous years. With Thanksgiving Thursday
and Black Friday being combined to get shoppers to get in their shopping before December
, the thought of what to get those folks on your list may be daunting.
This is especially true as more technology has come out and will come out before the holiday
season – as mobile continues to grow, the abundance of smartphones and tablets has also
grown, with more companies jumping in the race. This is also the time when the video game
manufacturers and console makers are trying to entice parents to buy their kids the next best
console or game.
But while you may be checking out video games for Junior, you may not even realize that you
can also pick up a game for your parents or grandparents.
You’re probably asking, “What? Video games are for kids!”
And you’d be wrong
Seniors & Video Games
As mentioned, video games are often seen as mindless entertainment at best, a portal to violent
misdeeds and debauchery at most; as comics and television was once seen as the gateway to
hell when watched by children, so too has the world of the video gamer been thought to be less
than educational or rewarding.
But as recent studies have shown, those of the video game generation who grew up when
computers were just starting to be the mainstream habit they are now, there have been
documented reports not only on the rewards of playing video games, but also the age of the
average gamer. It should come as no surprise that most gamers are between the ages of 18
and 49, at 41%; what is surprising however is that 26% of people playing games are over the
age of fifty.
That’s right – your parents, grandparents, and even great grandparents are playing video
Type of Games
So what kind of games are your parents or grandparents playing?
Within the 26% of the senior playing age, 52% are playing games that test their logic and
memory skills. That’s right – video games are educational. Again, reports have documented
that many video game players have excellent hand/eye coordination, thanks to the ability of
watching the screen and maneuvering a controller or keyboard.
For the older population, video games offer more than just endless joy of being able to best an
opponent; many popular board and card games are now offered online in a digital form and
these games not only help to keep a senior occupied, but when played with others, it connects
them to the outside world. This is extremely helpful for those who may be in an assisted living
facility, with sporadic contact with family and friends.
This isn’t to say that video games only provide for logic and brain games; they can also be a
Thanks to the introduction of the Nintendo Wii, seniors were able to not only play games
designed for a more casual audience, but actually be involved in them physically. Many
retirement communities and assisted living homes implemented Wii systems within their
environments in order to encourage activity among their residents, thanks to games like Wii
Sports; these activities were also helpful in encouraging social activity amongst residents, as
well as seniors and their families, thanks to the console’s four player mode which allowed for
either team playing or four player head to head games.
The Nintendo Wii introduced video games to a new wave of gamers – those who like to play, but
don’t do it all the time. ‘Casual’ gamers who just like to play on occasion or who play online, will
normally drift to sites like Facebook for their gaming pleasure or for those who enjoy tablets and
smartphones, the many games that are available in the app stores of each manufacturer.
These games can be anything from the popular Farmville to that of Plants vs. Zombies and
even just a quick game of chess or mahjong.
So What Should You Get?
Obviously, seniors are playing video games and are enjoying them; perhaps your parent or
grandparent enjoys games as much as you do. So what should you look for in the event they’d
like a video game for Christmas?
First things first – get them the game they want to play, not the one you want to play. Yes,
perhaps your dad – who was a long time D&D player – might enjoy a World of Warcraft
expansion pack, but realistically think about the amount of hours and even the amount of
enjoyment he would get from it. Currently, the most popular sites that seniors use for their
gaming habits include –
• Game House
• Big Fish
Many of the games listed on these sites are free to play, as long as the player signs up with the
website. However, many of these games may also have a downloadable desktop component or
a downloadable app; Plants vs. Zombies, for instance, can be played on both a computer and a
mobile device. If you know that your grandmother likes the game, why not purchase it for use on
her computer or tablet?
Even with the influx of mobile devices, there is still a wide variety of pc games that a senior
might enjoy; just make sure that they have a computer system that will be able to run it.
And while technology continues to grow, don’t think that physical board games and card
games have gone by the way side; around the holidays, many hobby and game stores will pop
up, selling unique gifts, such as board games. These are great custom items that can mean
something special – if your mom loves a good mystery, why not get her a murder mystery game
in which the whole family can participate?
Games – both video and physical – can be great ways of staying active, both in body, mind, and
spirit, as well as being a great way to spend time with folks that you love. Just remember – this
Thanksgiving, it should be more about spending time with your senior than shopping for them.
Infographic - http://www.onlineeducation.net/2010/01/14/videogame-statistics
Simply Seniors - http://simplyseniors.com/travel_and_lifestyle/entertainment/
2013 by Regina
- Article by Regina
Woodard exclusively for Assisted Living Directory
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